Ginseng is an herb that is gaining popularity recently, and if you were wondering how to grow this “green gold,” this article is for you.
Ginseng is a herb that is harvested for its roots and is most commonly known for its medicinal purposes. It has affectionately been called “green gold,” and some say it is the best herb to grow for your health.
It can help boost energy, give mental focus and clarity, calms anxiety, increases immunity, lowers blood sugar, and more. You can eat ginseng raw, or put it in a tea, and it can be added to stir fry, soup, and other recipes.
Ginseng looks similar to ginger (although they are different,) with tan, long roots. Ginseng’s leaves and red berries are edible, but it is mostly for the root that the herb is grown and harvested.
So, how do you grow ginseng? Ginseng grows in the wild next to hardwood trees in moist, well shaded areas. Growing ginseng at home can be done on the ground, in a pot/planter box, or in containers in a greenhouse. Growing and harvesting ginseng for personal use is relatively easy, and great for you and your family. You can also harvestand sell ginseng for a profit, which we will get to in a minute.
You’ll want to plant your seeds in a mostly shaded spot (70-80% shaded, ginseng thrives in cooler weather.)
Plant ginseng seeds in the fall or early winter. Hardiness zones 3-7 are the best for growing ginseng.
Conditions for growing ginseng
Growing ginseng is really great, but it takes a lot of patience. It can take up to five years for the plant to be fully matured, and up tp 18 months for the seeds to germinate (less if you buy pre-stratified seeds.) But don’t let that deter you from growing ginseng. Apart from the lengthy growing period, ginseng is actually super easy to grow and care for and not a lot is required from you.
The first step to growing ginseng is to buy your seeds. You can buy them online, or there may be some local sellers. If you buy seeds that have already been through the stratification process it may be more expensive, but it will also speed up the germination process as well. Once you have bought your seeds, you are ready to prepare your planting site.
Whether you are planting on the ground or in planter boxes, you need soil that has a pH of 6.0-6.5. Choose rich, well-draining soil, and a spot that provides a nice amount of shade. If your planting in a greenhouse, make sure your planter boxes are in a cooler area and if needed has artificial shade. If you are planting outside, remove rocks and things that could get in the way, and also keep it shaded.
Plant your ginseng 1 inch below the surface, and 14 inches apart. Once the seeds are planted, be patient! The seeds will take a long time before they are ready to be harvested, and it’s important that you allow that full time for them to mature. Just keep taking care of them and be patient. Soon enough you’ll be able to enjoy ginseng fresh from your garden.
Caring for ginseng
Ginseng does well in mostly shaded areas. It needs a little bit of light, but makes sure it doesn’t get direct sunlight.
Ginseng loves water, and does well in damp areas. Water regularly to keep your soil moist, but don’t overwater to harm the roots.
Preventing disease or pests
If you start getting wilted leaves on your ginseng it may be from an animal or a disease on the plant. Check the roots for bite marks, and set up traps or barriers to deter them away.
Other good things you can do for your ginseng would be mulch, or compost, and pruning.
Harvesting ginseng, after the plant is mature, needs to be done carefully so you don’t damage the root.
First, loosen the soil around the root, so that pulling the root out can be nice and easy. You can also harvest the leaves and berries and use them for things, or you can just harvest the root. The berries contain the ginseng seed, and a mature plant should contain 6-8 seeds. You can just replant the berry immediately after harvesting the first set of roots to start the process over again.
Once the soil is loosened you can carefully pull up the root, and wash it under cool water, rubbing away any soil still there.
Then, air dry the ginseng in a warmer place, and out of direct sunlight. It may take a couple weeks to fully dry, and you will know when the inside of the root is white. Once the root is dry you can use it in teas, or other recipes, or eat it raw.
Harvesting for Profit
Growing and selling ginseng is a nice way to make money and make a profit. Because it takes a long time to grow, ginseng can sell for up to $600 a pound.
You can harvest the roots, or you could even grow enough plants to harvest and sell the seeds to other growers. If you are new to growing ginseng it may be best to start out small and see what happens. Then, if you like the process and want to go bigger you can. Some sellers dedicate a whole acre to ginseng and get a lot out of their investment. That definitely puts on a new meaning to the term “green gold.”
While you can grow ginseng for your personal use, harvesting, exporting, and selling ginseng on a bigger scale may require a permit. Depending on the state you live in there might be a few restrictions to growing ginseng, so if you are planning on growing ginseng for profit, you may want to look at your state regulations first.